15 October 2018

Dear Community

Welcome back to the start of another school year. It is always great to see our boys return and bring back the heart and soul to our College. Speaking to staff and parents across the three sub-schools the first week appears to have gone very smoothly; especially where it matters in the classroom. I have no doubt there would have been some hidden challenges but then again there always are in such a large and vibrant college environment.

The tone and benchmark for the start of the year was well and truly set by our Parents Association Welcome Back BBQ. This came on the back of the work put in across the whole weekend from our boarding staff in transitioning our boarders back after their break. I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to Ian Knobel and his dedicated team for delivering such a great welcome back function on Sunday 31 February. Having discussed this event with a lot of people, I am in no doubt that the use of the area outside of the Year 10-12 Boarding house was a real winner and will become our preferred option moving forward.

During last week I attended parent evenings where it was great to see so many returning and new faces. As Headmaster one of the major things I ask from all of the community is that we ensure we look after our new families during these initial settling back in weeks. I can still remember my first week at Scotch and how welcoming the community was and just what this meant to my own family. Engagement makes a huge difference for all of us when we start at somewhere new. To our new families I urge you to meet your class and year representatives and get involved in your son's journey. Furthermore, become engaged with your Scotch Auxiliary and Parent Association meetings and activities. I know we are all busy but the more you get engaged with the Scotch community, the more you will realise just how special Scotch can be.

As we start a new year it is worth reinforcing that most successful organisations are those that keep the channels of communication open and streamlined. The school management structure of each sub-school is identical in that there is a Head of School, Dean of Teaching and Learning and Deputy of Administration and Pastoral. In Residential Life the structure is identical however, there is a Director of Residential Life instead of Head of School. The first point of contact for all parents should be the person who can give you the quickest direct answer. In the first instance this is very often the classroom teacher or in Senior School the subject teacher. In essence if you are unsure who to contact then call the administrative support staff at the respective sub school and they will ensure your query is handled efficiently and effectively through getting the most relevant staff member to get back to you. In a world where we now over use email and SMS due to convenience, an in-person chat or question can in many cases result in a far better outcome as opposed to a string of reply all emails.

Finally, if you are reading this message you have already made the correct start regarding College communication. The Thistle, in conjunction with any specific sub-school communications, is a critical part of our how our families keep abreast of what is happening. Over the course of a year it is extraordinary just how much occurs across our College. If in doubt just ask us for help.

On a personal note, if you are a new family and see me out and about either at the College or in the community, come up or say hello. This goes for returning parents who already have shown their willingness to have a chat over last weekend at various events.

Have a great start to the term and I look forward to catching up with you throughout the course of the year.

Dr A J O'Connell